Catholic school employers agree to further FWC meeting but attempt to set “conditions”
Today should have been an opportunity for the employers to come to the table to resolve these negotiations.
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has been assisting the parties through an alternate bargaining process “New Approaches Program” but regrettably the current employer position has prevented this from occurring.
Employees for their part remain prepared to find resolution with the assistance of FWC.
Employers last week advised all staff that they had decided to “withdraw” from the FWC process. Employee representatives have since requested a further meeting with the employers in the presence of the FWC to discuss the employers’ preparedness to continue the FWC process as an avenue to resolve these negotiations.
The employers have agreed to the employees’ request for a further meeting in this forum and this will take place on Friday 6 May 2016.
Employers attempt to set “conditions” for further FWC meeting
Employee representatives have requested a further meeting with employer representatives in the presence of the FWC as a forum to resolve the matters under negotiation.
While the employers have now agreed to this meeting, they have done so on the basis of a set of “conditions for [their] continued participation in the New Approaches Program”. These conditions attempt to limit what can, and cannot, be discussed. These have not been agreed by employee representatives. The FWC meeting remains scheduled for 6 May 2016.
It is a regrettable situation that the employers would seek to impose any conditions on such a meeting, given employees will enter this meeting with no preconditions.
Employees are prepared to engage in a serious conversation about the use of the FWC process to resolve these negotiations and the employers need to recognise the sensibleness in taking such an approach if they genuinely want the matters in dispute to be resolved.
Members’ legitimate concerns must be addressed
Members are showing considerable patience by not escalating their authorised protected action while the FWC process is undertaken.
The employers need to recognise the restraint being shown by employees and come to the FWC meeting next week with some sensible solutions to resolve these negotiations.
The mechanism through which employees’ legitimate concerns are addressed by employers – whether the SBU negotiations or the FWC process – does not matter. What does matter is that the employer representatives come to the table with the authority from employing authorities and a genuine willingness to resolve the matters in dispute.